Jim Miles recently reviewed my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict for the Palestine Chronicle. Here are a few excerpts:
It is a detailed work concentrating on the combination of actions and language concerning the U.S.’ supporting role for Israel. The physical actions, the identifiable events of history, could be presented in a much shorter work for the time span covered. It is in the realm of language – agreements (written or otherwise), media representations, speeches, discourses, and the many elements of international law – affecting, describing, attributing, manipulating – where the bulk of Hammond’s presentation concentrates.
The latter element, international law, assumes a position front and centre in Hammond’s arguments. Both the U.S. and Israel rationalize their actions by referring to international law but they do so essentially by attempting to “manage perceptions”, create their own “narrative”, utilize the Chomsky described vehicle of “manufactured consent” all the while operating with a set of “double standards”. Hammond makes an intense and well structured ‘deconstruction’ of the misleading language, the obfuscation, the fog of jargon utilized by U.S. and Israeli politicians, pundits and media of all kinds….
Obviously there are different interpretations of both the customary and treaty laws, but there is sort of a law of laws, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, that says, “A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context…” Thus, if the ordinary meaning is to be understood in context, then to support a position that would under the ‘ordinary meaning’ be against international law, it becomes necessary to change the context. However the reality of the context can only be changed by managing its presentation.
Changing the context is done through the methods described by Hammond throughout his presentation: alter the narrative, use double standards, manage perception, manufacture consent. It is in this area where Hammond does a superb thorough deconstruction of Israeli/U.S. attempts to change the context to fit their own denial of international law as it pertains to them….
Obstacle to Peace is a lengthy and involved read, yet readily accessible. It can and should serve as a reference work, a compendium of information on the Israel-Palestine conflict. As for the initial structural reference, the chapters are clearly delineated and set out with clear subheadings. The bibliography/reference section is extensive….
The conclusion is simple, well supported by the precise examination of language and context: “the single greatest obstacle to a peaceful resolution: the criminal policies of the government of the United States of America.”
One reader, Steven Lance, left the following comment there:
I am a long time researcher re the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; ever since 1967 to be exact. During the ensuing years I have read extensively of the literature and written on the topic for articles, columns and letters to the editor.
Though now only half way through Obstacles [sic] To Peace, I can say unequivocally this book is a must for people truly desiring an understanding of the situation. If, like me all those years ago, it just doesn’t make sense for Palestinians to again and again reject a homeland solution that they maintain is their raison d’etre, then you must read this book.